Second Chance

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Jane Green has become a nationally bestselling author with legions of fans through her novels about the true-life dilemmas of real women—their relationships, their careers, their loves, their triumphs and disappointments. In her latest book, Green tells the story of a group of people who haven’t seen each other since they were best friends at school. When one of them dies in a terrible tragedy, the reunited friends work through their grief together and find that each of their ...

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Second Chance

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Jane Green has become a nationally bestselling author with legions of fans through her novels about the true-life dilemmas of real women—their relationships, their careers, their loves, their triumphs and disappointments. In her latest book, Green tells the story of a group of people who haven’t seen each other since they were best friends at school. When one of them dies in a terrible tragedy, the reunited friends work through their grief together and find that each of their lives is impacted in ways they could have never foreseen. Warm, witty, and as wise as ever, this is a story of friendship, of family, and of life coming full circle.

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Editorial Reviews

People Magazine
Entertainment Weekly
Green's many fans will revel in her interwoven plots.
Peopled with her trademark likable, sympathetic characters, Green's latest is sure to have wide appeal.
Library Journal
An awful death brings together friends who haven't been in touch since school. Maybe they'll all get a "second chance." Reading group guide. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The sudden death of their close friend in a terrorist attack triggers big changes in the lives of four school friends who reunite after 20 years. When affable British-born internet mogul Tom Fitzgerald's Boston-bound train is bombed, his stunned friends get together at his memorial service in London to reflect on his, and their own, lives. All in their late 30s, the group includes journalist Paul, Hollywood actress Saffron and earthy Olivia, who runs an animal shelter. There is also Tom's longtime "best friend" Holly, a part-time illustrator and mother of two married to a rich lawyer. On the surface, their lives appear placid enough, but as they rekindle their friendship the cracks appear. Onetime womanizer Paul is happily married to Swedish businesswoman Anna, but the two are going broke over repeated in-vitro treatments that the increasingly child-desperate Anna insists on having. Olivia, in contrast, finds herself single and pregnant, and at a loss over what to do. Saffron is a recovering alcoholic carrying on a secret relationship with a married movie star she met in AA. And Holly-perhaps hit hardest by Tom's death-feels increasingly alienated from her pompous prig of a husband Marcus, and preoccupied over what might have been with Tom if the two had only acted on their attraction, and not married other people. In her vulnerable state, Holly grows closer to Tom's younger brother Will, a charming carpenter who nursed a secret crush on her when they were kids. Another crisis tightens the group after Saffron's affair is exposed, and she falls off the wagon. Then they all congregate at Paul and Anna's dilapidated rural home, for more bonding, rebuilding and assorted country shenanigans.Considering its subject matter, Green's latest (Swapping Lives, 2006, etc.) is neither morbid nor overly sentimental, with sensible and appealing characters who, for the most part, end up doing the right thing. Warm and chummy exploration of how friends can become our chosen families.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670038572
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/19/2007
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Green

Jane Green was born and brought up in London. After abandoning a Fine Art degree and a stint in journalism, she went into public relations and worked for a time on This Morning. Jane then went back into the newspaper world and became a popular feature writer with the Daily Express, before going freelance and starting her first novel. A string of international bestsellers and marriage to an American later, Jane now lives in Connecticut – but flies home to London as often as four children and lots of animals allow.

Jane's hugely successful books include; Straight Talking, Jemima J., Mr Maybe, Bookends, Babyville, Spellbound, The Other Woman and Life Swap. Her latest novel is Second Chance.


British import Jane Green is a founding member of the genre known as "chick lit," a literary territory populated by funny, likable, underdog heroines who triumph over life's adversities and find true love in the end. If someone turned Green's life into a novel, she might emerge as a chick-lit heroine herself. She toiled for years in the trenches of entertainment journalism and public relations (two fields that sound far more glamorous than they are!) before moving up to become a popular feature writer for The Daily Express in London.

In 1996, Green took a leap in faith when she left the paper to freelance and work on a novel. Seven months later, she had a publishing deal for her first book, Straight Talking, the saga of a single career girl looking for (what else?) the right man. The novel was a hit in England, and Green was, as she admitted in a Barnes & Noble interview, an "overnight success." The success got even sweeter when her second novel, Jemima J, became an international bestseller. Cosmopolitan called this cheerful, updated Cinderella story "the kind of novel you'll gobble up in a single sitting."

Since then, Green has graduated to more complex, character-driven novels that explore the concerns of real women's lives, from marriage (The Other Woman) to motherhood (Babyville) to midlife crises (Second Chance) -- all served up with her trademark wit and warmth. Whether she has outgrown chick lit or the genre itself is growing up, one thing seems certain: The career of Jane Green is destined for a happy ending.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Green:

"My life is actually very boring. The life of a bestselling novelist sounds like it ought to be spectacularly glamorous and fun, but in fact I spend most of my time incognito, and in fact were you to pass me in the street you would think I was just another dowdy suburban mom."

"I'm still a failed artist at heart and never happier than when I'm sitting behind an easel, painting, which is something I rarely do these days, although I have a few of my paintings around the house, competing, naturally, with far greater works."

"I am completely addicted to gossip magazines that are, I have decided, my secret shame. I know everything there is to know about who's been wearing what and where, the only problem is I have an inability to retain it, so although I enjoy it whilst flicking through the pages, as soon as I close the magazine all the information is gone."

"I am a passionate gardener and happiest when outside planting, particularly with the children, who have their own vegetable gardens."

"My favorite way to unwind is with friends, at home, with lots of laughter and lots of delicious food. I'm a horrible baker -- everything collapses and tastes awful -- but a great cook, particularly comfort food: stews and casseroles."

"I have a deep and passionate love of America. It is where I have always thought I would be happiest, and although I miss England desperately, I find that my heart definitely has its home over here."

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    1. Also Known As:
    2. Hometown:
      Westport, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 31, 1968
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      "Managed to drop out of Fine Art Degree at University."
    2. Website:

Reading Group Guide

Apart for twenty years, school friends Paul, Saffron, Olivia, and Holly are in very different places in their lives when they get together in London after the death of a close friend, but through their rediscovered friendship they find new paths to follow and—despite some missteps along the way—begin to understand what it means to get a second chance.

Upon receiving the news about the death of Tom Fitzgerald—the only one within the group who had kept in touch with all of them over the years—each character reacts in his or her own way, but all feel the need to see one another again and catch up on what they’ve been doing over the past two decades. Paul has become a freelance writer and journalist who improbably ended up in a two-page spread in Vogue, along with his wife Anna, the gorgeous and stylish founder of An actress living in Los Angeles, Saffron is on the brink of international stardom but is struggling with past demons while pursuing a secret relationship with a married megastar. Olivia, whose partner of six years, George, recently left her, is working at an animal shelter and slowly persuading herself to start dating again. And Holly, whose relationship with Tom was deeper than the others’, finds herself married with two children—but her husband, Marcus, is a chilly and distant man, and she is worried that she is no longer in love.

As they rekindle their connection, the friends find themselves faced with decisions they never expected to make. Holly finds herself drawn to Tom’s younger brother, Will, when she meets him again at the funeral and the two strike up an e-mail exchange that leads Holly into dangerous territory. While she considers what to do about her marriage and her future, she also finds herself closer than ever to her three former schoolmates—even Saffron, whose glittery lifestyle and famous friends haven’t dulled her down-to-earth personality and outrageous sense of humor.

In Second Chance, Jane Green follows the lives of these four as they help one another along, providing a lighthearted, warm, and witty look at contemporary middle age. For these characters, life really does begin at forty, and as their lives transform they realize there is nothing holding them back from continuing to pursue their dreams. By turns hilarious and moving, Green’s new novel is an addictive read for women of any age and an insightful exploration of the possibilities that life holds for all of us.


Jane Green was a disaster at university, discovered writing soon afterward, and went on throughout her twenties to work as a journalist for various national newspapers and magazines in her hometown of London. At twenty-seven, inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, she decided to give up her job at the Daily Express and write a real woman’s account of what it was like being single in the city.

Three months later she signed her first publishing deal, and Straight Talking, her (allegedly) largely autobiographical first novel, became a huge bestseller and, together with Bridget Jones’s Diary, launched the phenomenon that came to be known as “chick lit.”

Jane is currently at work on her tenth novel. She lives with her four children in Connecticut.

Q. Second Chance represents a bit of a departure for you, as your previous novels have primarily focused on a female protagonist dealing with contemporary relationship issues, written in a humorous tone. Though there are plenty of funny moments in the book, the main event is a tragedy, and all of the characters are dealing with grief. How was your experience writing this book different from how you’ve approached your previous novels?

I never set out to write with a humorous tone, although I agree, this book is darker and, perhaps, as so many of my books are a reflection of where I am in my life, the fact that I was going through a divorce while writing changed my voice somewhat. Also, writing about grief doesn’t leave vast amounts of room for humor, even though I have tried to keep a balanced view. Just as it is not all light, neither is it dark. I think what I have aimed for mostly is an accurate reflection of life, with all its ups and downs, for those of us in our thirties and forties.

Q. What was it like writing a novel that features an ensemble of characters? How did each of their personalities come to you? Was it difficult to juggle this many characters throughout the narrative?

I have written a cast of characters before in Bookends, and in some ways I prefer it now. I find, just as I did in the previous books, they all developed very strong individual characteristics, and their actions and dialogue always seemed to come very naturally. And I particularly love some of the smaller characters—Maggie and Will are among my favorites, although you could argue that Will, as the catalyst for Holly’s changes, is far from small.

Q. Discuss your decision to have Tom’s death occur as a result of a terrorist attack. The attack in the story is fictional, but it brings to mind other recent tragedies, such as September 11 and the bombings in London and Madrid. To what extent were these events on your mind as you were writing the book?

It seemed appropriate for them to lose Tom in something so senseless and tragic, and, of course, given the world we live in today, a terrorist attack on a train in America is no longer outside of the realm of possibility. Grieving for someone who has died in a tragedy that affects the entire nation is quite different, I think, from grieving for someone who has died in a smaller, more private way. My own experience of losing someone in a tragedy was that everyone wanted to connect to it, everyone wanted a part of it, it was very difficult to determine who was truly grieving the person and who was grieving because they needed to be a part of something so big.

Q. Though Tom is only present briefly in the beginning of the book, his spirit influences all of the characters, and his memory is an important part of Second Chance. How conscious were you of his presence during the writing process? What made you choose to limit the flashbacks of Tom’s life and instead keep his memory alive through his friends?

I wasn’t going to bring Tom in at all, but introducing him in the beginning, doing such mundane things as tripping over his children’s toys and his wife mumbling good-bye, makes it, I think, so very much more real for the reader. It is more of a shock when it happens, and it allows us to consider our own mortality—this doesn’t feel like a fictional character in a book; it could be us. And his presence was absolutely there throughout the book—they all feel that Tom is watching over them, and I felt, for a long time, that my friend was watching over me, was particularly aware of including things like the extraordinarily vivid dreams you have when you lose someone you love, in which they “come back” and tell you they are fine.

Q. The e-mail correspondence between Holly and Will sets up a certain amount of suspense for the reader as we share in Holly’s anticipation of getting a new message, and wonder what it will say. What made you decide to integrate their messages in full into the text? Have you used a device like this before? What advantages does this type of correspondence offer you as a writer?

It was fun to do it, but I was aware of not overdoing it. I liked having the ability to really see what Will was thinking and feeling, but I have attempted entire books written in e-mail form and find them rather gimmicky and irritating after a few pages.

Q. Which of the characters in Second Chance do you feel the closest to?

Oh, Holly, without question. So much of her ambivalence and frustration, her refusal to face the real root of her unhappiness, was very familiar to me. And mostly I am proud of her, that despite Marcus being such a difficult, dreadful man at times, Holly is absolutely accountable for her part in the marriage’s not working. It would have been, in many ways, easier to make Holly bitter, or resentful, or angry, and I am so proud that she is none of those things.

Q. This is your ninth novel. How has your career as a writer developed over the years of writing fiction, and how have things changed since your first book was published?

I always laugh when I think of how my novels have charted the course of my life. I was twenty-seven, single, in such a different place when I wrote Straight Talking. I have lived a particularly eventful life these last few years and would like to think I have acquired wisdom. I am kinder in my thirties than I was in my twenties, and more circumspect, more accepting of life on life’s terms and would hope that that comes across in my more recent writing.

Q. Are there any particular books you were reading that influenced you while writing Second Chance? Do you ever take inspiration from other writers?

I try not to read anything similar—unconscious plagiarism is remarkably easy when you come across a particular phrasing or description that you read over and over again because you love it so much. There are so many writers I adore and admire, but I find myself inspired mostly by life.

Q. What are your plans for your next book?

I would like to try my hand at a mystery. Still very much a “Jane Green” novel, I’m thinking of revisiting my fictitious town of Highfield and throwing in a very dubious character and all sorts of strange occurrences. Watch for more!


  • How does the title, Second Chance, relate to each of the main characters? How has their renewed friendship influenced each of their lives?
  • Although it was under tragic circumstances, Tom’s death brought a lot of people together—not only the old friends from school but also Will, Tom’s parents, Sarah, and others. Can you think of a similar instance in your own life when an unfortunate or terrible event led to a positive outcome? What were some of these positive outcomes?
  • Paul’s and Anna’s problems with infertility have a profound effect on their marriage and their relationships with others. What are some of the specific issues they face as a result of this dilemma, and how would you have handled them if you were in their situation? Are there any experiences you’ve had that are similar to this, and how did you handle them?
  • In Second Chance, each character has a different understanding of what marriage means and how it works (or doesn’t work) in their life. Which characters’ marriages reflect aspects of your own relationships, past or current, and how?
  • Holly gets caught up in a tentative relationship with Will, despite her marriage to Marco. What is it about Will’s and Holly’s personalities that would draw them together? What do you think about the way things end up between them?
  • On page 148, Green writes, “The problem with grief is that it doesn’t go away. As time ticks on, the rawness dissipates somewhat, and you find yourself settling in to the pain, becoming accustomed to it, wearing it around your shoulders like an old, heavy scarf.” What are your thoughts on this sentiment? How does this description of grief relate to your own experiences of loss and sadness?
  • The rediscovered friendship between these four characters gives each of them the chance to reflect on their lives over the past twenty years: the choices they’ve made, the regrets they have, the things they might have done differently. Think about your own life and things in your past that you wish you could change. How difficult do you think it is to make a significant change in your own life, or in the lives of your friends, for the future?
  • Why do you think Holly married Marcus in the first place? Although she offers a number of different explanations for this choice throughout the book—“she told herself that it was okay to settle” (p.59), she is still conflicted about this decision and about how it influenced the way her life turned out. When Holly decides to take action, which of her decisions do you agree or disagree with and why?
  • Saffron and Paul have both chosen lives that, to different extents, put them in the spotlight. How does the public’s opinion affect each of them? Are there any decisions either of them makes that you would have dealt with differently?
  • What do you think of Olivia’s trepidation before her blind date with Fred? What reasons did she have for being so nervous? Have you ever been on a blind date and how did it turn out?
  • Over the twenty years that the four main characters were apart, each of them stayed in touch with Tom but not with one another. However, his death affected them in a way that none of them had expected. What do you think each of the characters’ lives will be like after the book ends? Will they all stay in touch? Discuss how you envision each of them five or ten years later.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 77 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 77 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2008

    A reviewer

    I got the CD to listen to since I'm traveling and it's just on and on and on until I was about to scream 'GET ON WITH THE STORY!' I can't even imagine sitting and reading all that ... all the descriptions, all the things that just aren't that important to make the story good. The thing is, the idea is good .. we all saw that in the big chill, and it would have been a good book if it had taken a different turn. I started out with a good attitude about it. After a while, I was ready to throw the CD's out the window. Next time I'll choose more carefully when I'm trying to be entertained while driving across country ... something like that is just dangerous. A person could fall asleep listening to such drivel!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    Jane Green is by far my favorite author.This book was a great read. At first I thought it was a little morbid, but as you continue to read because you can't put it down, it gets lighter. This book will make you look at your own relationships with people including friends and family. This book made me realizes that I'm normal to have certain feelings that I have and at the end of the day I wouldn't want my life any different than how it is. Double thumbs up!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2007

    Love this Book!

    This was actually my first experience reading a Jane Green novel. I must admit that when it was chosen for this month's book club... I was a bit skeptical. However, once I began reading this book, I fell instantly in love with her writing style and character development. Definitely a 'must-read'

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 11, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Everything comes back Together

    I read some peoples reviews on this book and im sorry but I dont agree. I thought this book was touching, it had a great plot and it was hard to put down. Maybe not as romantic as I assumed it would be, but still a great read. Its sad what brought all these friends back together after so many years but it happens. I enjoyed the characters, and I thought the whole idea around the book was great. Im def. getting into Jane Green's novels more and more. I have read quite a few now and I think she hits the spot everytime.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2007

    Love Jane Green books!!

    The first chapter started off slow, so I was not sure how I was going to like the book as a whole. However, once I got past that first chapter it is AMAZING!!! I have been having a hard time putting it down, as I want to know what happens next! It's not Jemima J, however, it is just as good!! I love Jane Green and countdown until her next book is out!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2007

    A reviewer

    It's not Jemima J, and if people are expecting that they will be disappointed. But if you are excited about new characters and how great Jane Green is at developing characters - you will really enjoy this. I personally couldn't put it down because I was dying to see what was going to happen next and how the characters were going to get on with their lives. I love Jane Green and I look forward to her books each time they are released.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2007

    Truly a great read...

    I thought this was a great tale of friendships and relationships. I truly couldn't put it down and would recommend it to anyone - especially those who have enjoyed her other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2007

    Good book for a light summer read

    I have read all of the Jane Green books and this one was not bad but not as good as some of her others. Her writing was good and I did feel feel that I could relate to the main character Holly. The ending left me wanting a little more closure but overall this is not a bad book in my opinion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2007

    Loved the new book!

    I have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of Green's new book. My mom and I both loved the story and found it impossible to put down. The story about rekindling old friendships, and beginning new ones made us laugh and cry out loud. A fun book for pool side reading. Go into it with an open mind, because the book gets better and better as it goes on. It is only proper that an author's style will change as she grows.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    Boring as all heck!!

    Can't even finish the book!! Totally disappoined in the author's last few books. Loved her older ones. Oh well!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2015

    Wonderful read... anything you write.Beautiful,touching and very hard to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Not good.

    From the description, i thought this would be a warm story about old friends rekindling their friendship and acting like kids again, realizing after the sudden death of their friend that they've only got so much time left together. Instead, I got the story of a bunch of rich ladies clucking about how hard their lives are. The main character, Holly, is the worst. All she thinks about is how much she hates her husband and everyone else's wives. Another mediocre story by Jane, surprise surprise.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2012


    Read it on my honeymoon in Jamaica. Great feel good book. Love the one you're with.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Good but drags on a bit

    I didn't love this book as much Jane Green's others. It was a good story, but I think it drug on a bit through the middle. Still a good read.

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Terrific and Warm Story.

    I have bought just about all of Jane's books because she writes such wonderful stories and this novel "Second Chance" is no exception. In this story of friends the author again drew me into the story and I could feel every emotion (even the laughter) the characters were experiencing. In my opinion it's an easy, feel good read. A great book to relax with on the beach.

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  • Posted January 29, 2011

    I just could not get into this book...

    ...honestly, I only read the first half and figure that I'd wasted enough time on it. I could not get into the story and kept waiting for something to happen, anything, secretive, thrilling, romantic...I got nothing. There were so many characters, none of them outstanding or memorable, that I could not tell the difference between who was who and wish I'd written them down so I could tell them apart.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Divorce, affair, etc.

    I have a hard time with books about affairs and divorce. mostly because I'm recently married and not ready to think too much about those topics. If you are more into these topics, then you may enjoy this book more than I did.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    No Second Chance Needed

    The plot of this novel was not what I expected from the blurb, and even from reading the first few chapters. However, as I delved deeper I became attached to the characters and was reacting as if I were in a movie theater, i.e. shouting "NO!" at my book, only by myself, in my study. Regardless, Jane Green is an excellent author and even if my initial understanding of the plot was a little muddled, she carries the story nicely by bridging multiple characters with interesting stories. One of the substories was a little cheesetastic, but it can be overlooked due to my overall enjoyment of the book.

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  • Posted September 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A Fast Read

    This book is about a group of high school friends who get reunited due to a friends death in a terrorist attack. They are approaching 40 and Tom's death has made them all take a long look at their lives. It has given them all a second chance. A good enough book to save and give a second read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2009

    Take a chance on Second Chance!

    I enjoyed reading Second Chance. It was a fast read and very entertainig to watch the characters go through their everyday lives.

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